The next stop for the bill to shut down Perpich and (possibly) convey Crosswinds (HF1825 and clone HF1826) is at the House Education Finance committee this Wednesday, 3/15, at 1pm. Please make a call to your own representative and also consider quick calls to bill sponsors Jenifer Loon and Sondra Erickson. Let them know you support Crosswinds and would like to see it conveyed to the Saint Paul Public Schools this year. If you care about arts education in Minnesota, then also let them know you would like to see Perpich get a chance under new leadership rather than being shut down as this bill suggests.
Please keep in mind that not all Representatives and Senators will be directly dealing with this particular bill at this time, but may have influence in speaking with others. If you have time to look to see if your legislator is on an Education committee or Government Operations committee, these folks will be dealing with this more closely. The more you can make it personal, the better. Like “I noticed you are on Education K-12 committee and I am highly concerned about the bill to close Perpich” or “I noticed that you are not on any education committees but I am highly concerned about the bill to close Perpich and hope you could possibly discuss this with a colleague on an education committee.”
Here are some ideas on what you might say. Explain why Arts Education is important to you. Choose from the topics below, but put them in your own words. Focus on what makes sense to you and keep it short. Ask them to please Convey Crosswinds to the Saint Paul Public School and to keep Perpich Center for Arts Education open for all of Minnesota students and teachers. Include your name and mailing address, and a phone number (though they will not likely call you back).
- Drawing out a decision on Crosswinds conveyance will put two schools at risk: Crosswinds School and Woodbury Leadership Academy. Please amend this bill to allow Crosswinds conveyance to the Saint Paul Public Schools this year.
- While I support conveying Crosswinds, I also want to see the Perpich Center for Arts Education serving all Minnesotans.
- The decline of Perpich services the past few years has been due to mismanagement. Teachers want and need Perpich as a resource and training service for arts education in their classrooms and schools.
- Perpich has new leadership and needs to be given a chance to turn the agency around.
- Perpich Arts High School provides a unique Arts education which is available to students across Minnesota. This type of Arts focused education is not otherwise available in many areas of the state.
- Perpich Outreach is a resource for all arts specialist teachers in the state. While we have many opportunities in the metro area, much of Greater Minnesota does not have these resources and relies heavily on Perpich Outreach for assistance.
- The Perpich Library is a valuable resource for teachers and educators around the state to check out and use. Moving these materials to the State Library Services Division of the Department of Education will not allow proper access for teachers and educators.
Yesterday the House Education Innovation Policy committee held a hearing on HF1825, a bill sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Loon (48B, Eden Prarie) and Sondra Erickson (15A, Princeton) to abolish the Perpich Center for Art Education and convey Perpich and Crosswinds properties to other parties. By a 9 to 6 party line vote the committee approved the bill and sent it on to the House Education Finance committee.
Saint Paul Schools interim superintendent John Thein was present and reiterated Saint Paul’s interest in taking over the Crosswinds school. He again promised to keep the program, staff, and families of Crosswinds intact, and spoke of how well Crosswind’s mission was suited for Saint Paul’s diverse student body. Thein also noted that the year-round calendar of Crosswinds was a perfect fit for the year-round program Saint Paul already manages at Crossroads. The Crossroads K-5 would be a perfect feeder to the Crosswinds 6-10, and Saint Paul’s objective would be to grow Crosswinds to a school for grades 6-12 gradually.
One issue to note is timing. The bill does not seek conveyance of Crosswinds to another party until January 2018. This is an incredibly awkward timing for all involved. For Perpich, it leaves a drain on their budget present for another full year. For Saint Paul, it would require a temporary management agreement with Perpich for the 2017-2018 school year. For families and faculty of Crosswinds, this would let uncertainty about the final outcome fester and scare people away from the school. Both Saint Paul Public Schools and the Perpich Board have asked the legislature to approve a conveyance in June 2017 instead, so that a smooth transition could be promoted.
Another potential stumbling block may be interest from District 833 (South Washington County Schools). Although the district has made no proposal for taking over Crosswinds this year, and did not appear at the public hearing the Perpich Board held at Crosswinds last month, there have been rumors that they remain interested in the property. You may recall that in 2013 the District 833 proposal was simply to use the building for their own purposes, discarding the program, staff, and students of Crosswinds.
Representative JoAnn Ward (53A, Woodbury), in whose district Crosswinds sits, spoke up during the hearing for both Perpich and Crosswinds. She hopes to put forward a bill this month that would seek the earlier conveyance of Crosswinds to the Saint Paul Public Schools.
At a public meeting held by the Perpich Center for Arts Education at the Crosswinds School this week, a draft proposal was shared that suggested the Saint Paul Public Schools may take over the Crosswinds School.
The draft closely resembled the terms under which the Roseville Schools took over Harambee in 2014. Under the draft proposal, transportation funding for students currently at Crosswinds would be “grand-mothered” in, but new students from outside the Saint Paul district would have to provide their own transportation as open enrollment students.
Solvejg Wastvedt reports for MPR that St. Paul has proposed taking over Crosswinds. In “St. Paul district could assume control of Crosswinds school” she reports:
The plan would add an additional grade each year starting in 2018, eventually resulting in a 6-12 school. The proposal envisions maintaining current staff, although it does not commit to keeping every position.
The article also states that St. Paul’s is the only proposal the Perpich board has received for Crosswinds.
Both the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio are reporting that the St. Paul Public School Board has served EMID with notice of its intent to withdraw from the integration collaborative. Rehab Feshir writes for MPR: “St. Paul school board votes to leave integration district.”
In a statement released after the vote, the board cited changes EMID has implemented, including dropping Harambee and Crosswinds, as reasons for its intent to withdraw by the beginning of the next school year.
Doesn’t it seem amazing that the SPPS board, which worked so hard to kill Harambee and Crosswinds, would now site the departure of those schools from EMID as its reason for leaving the collaborative?
Anthony Lonetree posts for the Star Tribune: “St. Paul schools to leave integration district.”
The departure from the East Metro Integration District (EMID) takes effect after the 2015-16 school year, according to action taken by the school board at a special meeting Tuesday.
The one-year countdown starts ticking now.